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Detroit — Developers of a $50 million upscale hotel broke ground Friday on a six-story upscale development that will bring 158 rooms, restaurant and retail to the downtown.

Cambria Hotel at 600 W. Lafayette is set to open in 2020 and will incorporate the historic Albert Kahn-designed building with 150,000-square-feet of new construction, including modular hotel rooms. It’s the first modular hotel in the city, and its first hotel built from the ground up in 15 years, officials said.

“An Albert Kahn building is going to be given new life as a result of this project, and that’s combined with a new approach to construction through the modular construction,” said Arthur Jemison, group executive for planning housing and development for the city. “Those two things together again speak to an approach of the best of the old and the history of our city being embraced and lifted up as well as using new construction.”

Jemison made his remarks Friday in the space of the 1936 building that once housed the WWJ Studios. That space will become the hotel's featured restaurant, said Brian Holdwick, president and CEO of Detroit-based Holdwick Development Group. Also behind the minority-led project are Detroit-based Means Group LLC and Troy-based Koucar Management.

“In addition, our plan is to have a ballroom in the old auditorium that will be a place for many amazing weddings and events in the future,” Holdwick said.

Features of the hotel will include:

  • Spa-style bathrooms with Bluetooth mirrors.
  • Contemporary guestrooms with modern fixtures, ample lighting and plush bedding.
  • Onsite restaurant, Verona by Fabio Viviani.
  • Grand ballroom and banquet space.
  • State-of-the-art fitness center with spa amenities.
  • Rooftop patio bar

The development will also include 60,000-square-feet of office and retail space with tenants including Detroit Taco and Detroit Kid City.

The redevelopment of the 90,000-square-foot Kahn building calls for preserving the lobby, the former studio and on-air signs. 

The architect for the project is Royal Oak-based Krieger Klatt Architects. 

Troy-based Champion Homes will construct the modular hotel rooms with complete interiors in a plant off-site and deliver for installation. The company recently built the modular apartment units for the development, The Corner, which opened this past summer on the former site of the Tiger Stadium.

The hotel's design is locally inspired, said Janis Cannon, senior vice president of upscale brands for Choice Hotels, which franchises the Cambria Hotel brand expanding in U.S. cities.

During a tour of a standard modular hotel room that sat near the construction site Friday afternoon, Cannon pointed out a mural behind a floating king-sized bed. Bright downtown city lights were blended with the image of a bridge.

"It's delivered in an artistic way so it's not an obvious thing," she said. 

Holdwick said he was thankful for the support received for the project through various tax incentives. Earlier this year, the Michigan Strategic Fund Board approved a 22-year, $8.4 million-plus tax break.

Khalil Rahal, Wayne County's executive director for economic development, said the Cambria Hotel will help the area attract more events.

“We’re trying to get more conventions," he said. "We're trying to bring more Super Bowls back to the city of Detroit. And we all know the amount of hotel space is helpful to be able to attract those kinds of events. We make that argument a little better today."

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN

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